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Is a Living Will Right for You?

By Jeanette Eirich

A living will, or what is often called an “advance medical directive”, is a document that outlines one?s wishes regarding the medical treatment and/or life-saving measures to be received or withheld at the end of life.? A Colorado medical directive or living will generally consists of three components that serve three distinct purposes.? The first component is to create a medical durable power of attorney. Once the medical power of attorney is created, one can set about declaring the scope of the medical care that one deems desirable in anticipation of having to confront a tragedy or terminal illness later in life.? Finally, the living will allows one to set forth wishes regarding organ donation, should that be something of interest.

A Medical Durable Power of Attorney appoints a person of your choosing with the authority to act on your behalf regarding medical care decisions when you are no longer able to make those decisions.? This authority is not limited to only decisions at the end of life, but in the event that you become disabled or are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.? A medical durable power of attorney can operate separate from a declaration about end of life medical care you choose to receive.

The living will or declaration states your wishes about end of life care and becomes effective once two physicians (usually a treating doctor and an associated physician) certify that you lack the decision making capacity to accept or reject medical care, meaning you can no longer consent or refuse treatment.? In such a case, you can direct that only pain medication be administered to keep you comfortable and that all other life-sustaining treatment, i.e. artificial ventilation and feeding, be terminated.? You can also put time parameters on the administration of any life-sustaining treatment you choose to accept.

A statement of organ donation directs your medical provider with authority to take those organs you select for donation purposes and also provides time limitation within which you wish to be kept alive by artificial means for the purpose of accomplishing organ donation.

The option to choose and direct the type of medical care you desire while you are able and competent and to choose the person(s) who will take over that responsibility when you can no longer make those decisions, ensures that your wishes are carried out and that in the event you cannot make decisions, someone you trust is making those decisions on your behalf.? A written directive of your wishes and choices is the clearest expression you can make, and helps to avoid conflict among family members and treating professionals.

SMART TIP:? Planning for your future medical care and treatment should be part of your overall estate planning and we encourage you to seek the assistance of professional advisors and/or attorneys to ensure proper planning and documentation to protect your wishes. ?For assistance, contact The AR Group at Jeanette@theARgroup.com or 720-452-3333.